Have you seen the new Tennis video yet? It premiered a few days ago on RollingStone.com, and the lyrics (and accompanying video) are reportedly inspired by a Shirley Jackson novel titled We Have Always Lived in a Castle. You familiar? Neither were we. Luckily, our trusty friend, Wikipedia, has the cliff notes. Evidently, it's a delightful little tale of murder and mayhem involving two sisters -- one of whom poisons their parents, as well as a brother and an aunt, with arsenic -- who end up living sequestered in a house without a roof.
We never would've gleaned any of that, however, from watching the mildly creeptastic new video for "Deep In the Woods," directed by Scott Laidlaw (who directed "Pigeon" another Tennis video from Cape Dory) and Frank Rinaldi.
The clip opens up with a close up of the hands of one of the two females, whose fingers are slathered in an slimy, red-orange substance that is supposed to be blood, we presume, but really more closely resembles hot and sour sauce, which, by the way, also happens to be splattered on the young lady's face.
As she gently wringing her hands over a portrait, the other gal is seen dragging a trash bag oozing whatever the mysterious liquid is across a hardwood floor. After washing up, the two then proceed to help each other get dressed and then head outside to dump the murky, now red (?) water from the basin into the leaves and to drag the bag to a pile of other bags.
At this point, the pair then set about doing chores and going for a gingerly walk, hand-in-hand, in the woods, before we see another shot of them laughing together, chatting and playing with each other's hair in the tall grass. From there a picturesque sunset gives way to a roaring campfire with the two ladies staring intently and reflectively into the fire, their faces illuminated by the dancing flames, before the frame fades to black.
As far as videos go, this one is rather disappointing if you gravitate to more literal interpretations. The underlying premise certainly has plenty of promise, especially when soundtracked by (and juxtaposed with) the bubbly (though not quite as effervescent as before) pop and seemingly sinister lyrics of Alana Moore ("I'll bring down this house/I'll creep in and out/...all that I touch will be changed beyond doubt.../I will watch over you who will suspect/Deep in the woods where no one can detect"). The inherent contrast of that alone lends itself to vast possibilities.
Unfortunately, though, the visuals fail to rise to the material here. While the video has a certain artistic flair, the directors ultimately leave too much to our imaginations, compelling us to connect the dots on our own (red-orange fluid = blood, two women = sisters -- though, as mentioned, they're later shown walking through the woods holding hands, so they could very well be lovers). What's more, if you're not following the lyrics -- which Moore's phrasing makes it difficult sometimes to completely decipher her words -- the whole thing kind of seems like some sort of aimless (albeit artsy) home movie.
Either way, the song is good. "Deep in the Woods" appears on a limited edition blue 7-inch that was released this past Tuesday on Forest Family Records, the joint imprint founded by Gorilla vs Bear and Weekly Tape Deck. Young and Old, Tennis's full-length follow-up to Cape Dory, produced by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, is due out on Fat Possum Records on Valentines Day 2012. In the meantime, you can catch Tennis next Saturday, December 17 at the hi-dive with Minature Tigers and Sauna.
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